Israel’s first Olympic baseball team is led by an All-Star and the sport’s second-oldest player

2013 World Baseball Classic Qualifer 1- Game 1, South Africa vs. Israel
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The Israeli baseball team will make its Olympic debut later this month, headlined by four-time All-Star Ian Kinsler.

He is one of eight players on the 24-man team with Major League Baseball experience.

The 39-year-old, who made his All-Star appearances between 2008 and 2014, won the 2018 World Series with the Boston Red Sox. He also was on the U.S. team that won the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Kinsler, whose father is Jewish, became an Israeli citizen in March 2020; he is currently second baseman for the ALPB Long Island Ducks and a front-office advisor for the San Diego Padres.

Israel became a phenom on the international baseball stage in 2017. Ranked 41st in the world, the team finished sixth at its first World Baseball Classic appearance, then just missed the medal stand at its inaugural European Championships in 2019.

Israel then went on to take down the top-three teams from that event en route to winning the Africa/Europe Olympic qualifying tournament in September 2020.

This summer marks baseball’s sixth time on the Olympic program, though first since 2008, and is the first time Israel has qualified.

While Kinsler is the player with the most professional experience, it is pitcher Shlomo Lipetz who will likely be considered the leader of the team. The 42-year-old considers himself part of Israel’s first generation of baseball players and, born and raised in Tel Aviv, has helped build the national team program.

Only one Olympic baseball player has been older than Lipetz: Alan Phillips, who represented South Africa at age 44 in 2000.

In addition to his baseball career, Lipetz is currently the vice president of programming at New York’s City Winery.

Kinsler is joined in the infield by Scott Burcham, Ty Kelly, Zack Penprase and Danny Valencia.

Blake Gailen, Mitch Glaser, Assaf Lowengart and Robb Paller will man the outfield.

The catchers are Tal Erel, Ryan Lavarnway and Nick Rickles, and the pitching staff includes Jeremy Bleich, Jonathan DeMarte, Jake Fishman, Alex Katz, Jared Lakind, Alon Leichman, Lipetz, Jon Moscot, Joey Wegman, Ben Wanger, Zack Weiss and Josh Zeid.

Bleich, Kelly, Kinsler, Lavarnway, Moscot, Valencia, Weiss and Zeid have all played in the MLB.

Ten of the players represented Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Team Israel is coached by Eric Holtz, who has managed the national team since late 2017.

Olympic baseball play begins Wednesday, July 28. Israel plays South Korea on July 29 and the U.S. July 30 in Group B.

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Frances Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz exit French Open, leaving no U.S. men

Frances Tiafoe French Open

Frances Tiafoe kept coming oh so close to extending his French Open match against Alexander Zverev: 12 times Saturday night, the American was two points from forcing things to a fifth set.

Yet the 12th-seeded Tiafoe never got closer than that.

Instead, the 22nd-seeded Zverev finished out his 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-1, 7-6 (5) victory after more than 3 1/2 hours in Court Philippe Chatrier to reach the fourth round. With Tiafoe’s exit, none of the 16 men from the United States who were in the bracket at the start of the tournament are still in the field.

“I mean, for the majority of the match, I felt like I was in control,” said Tiafoe, a 25-year-old from Maryland who fell to 1-7 against Zverev.

“It’s just tough,” he said about a half-hour after his loss ended, rubbing his face with his hand. “I should be playing the fifth right now.”

Two other American men lost earlier Saturday: No. 9 seed Taylor Fritz and unseeded Marcos Giron.

No. 23 Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina beat Fritz 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5, and Nicolas Jarry of Chile eliminated Giron 6-2, 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-3.

There are three U.S women remaining: No. 6 Coco Gauff, Sloane Stephens and Bernarda Pera.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

It is the second year in a row that zero men from the United States will participate in the fourth round at Roland Garros. If nothing else, it stands as a symbolic step back for the group after what seemed to be a couple of breakthrough showings at the past two majors.

For Tiafoe, getting to the fourth round is never the goal.

“I want to win the trophy,” he said.

Remember: No American man has won any Grand Slam title since Andy Roddick at the 2003 U.S. Open. The French Open has been the least successful major in that stretch with no U.S. men reaching the quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003.

But Tiafoe beat Rafael Nadal in the fourth round of the U.S. Open along the way to getting to the semifinals there last September, the first time in 16 years the host nation had a representative in the men’s final four at Flushing Meadows.

Then, at the Australian Open this January, Tommy Paul, Sebastian Korda and Ben Shelton became the first trio of Americans in the men’s quarterfinals in Melbourne since 2000. Paul made it a step beyond that, to the semifinals.

After that came this benchmark: 10 Americans were ranked in the ATP’s Top 50, something that last happened in June 1995.

On Saturday, after putting aside a whiffed over-the-shoulder volley — he leaned atop the net for a moment in disbelief — Tiafoe served for the fourth set at 5-3, but couldn’t seal the deal.

In that game, and the next, and later on, too, including at 5-all in the tiebreaker, he would come within two points of owning that set.

Each time, Zverev claimed the very next point. When Tiafoe sent a forehand wide to end it, Zverev let out two big yells. Then the two, who have been pals for about 15 years, met for a warm embrace at the net, and Zverev placed his hand atop Tiafoe’s head.

“He’s one of my best friends on tour,” said Zverev, a German who twice has reached the semifinals on the red clay of Paris, “but on the court, I’m trying to win.”

At the 2022 French Open, Zverev tore ligaments in his right ankle while playing Nadal in the semifinals and had to stop.

“It’s been definitely the hardest year of my life, that’s for sure,” Zverev said. “I love tennis more than anything in the world.”

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2023 French Open women’s singles draw, scores

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At the French Open, Iga Swiatek of Poland eyes a third title at Roland Garros and a fourth Grand Slam singles crown overall.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Swiatek, the No. 1 seed from Poland, can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

Having turned 22 on Wednesday, she can become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Men’s Draw

But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her last pre-French Open match with a right thigh injury and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, is her top remaining challenger in Paris.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula, the highest-seeded American man or woman, was eliminated in the third round. No. 4 Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, who has three wins over Swiatek this year, withdrew before her third-round match due to illness.

No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, is the best hope to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Women’s Singles Draw

French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw French Open Women's Singles Draw